By Vincent Ujumadu
AWKAâ€” NO fewer than 21 policemen were killed and seven others injured in Anambra State by suspected armed robbers between January and 3 MayÂ this year, just as 54 persons were kidnapped in the state within the same period, the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Philemon Leha, has said.
Four robbers killed, 74 arrested
The Commissioner, who gave the statistics duringÂ an interview in Awka, yesterday, said that 74 armed robbers were also arrested and four killed within the period, while 20 suspected kidnappers were also arrested.
According to him, 3,266 different types of ammunition were recovered from the hoodlums, adding that some of the cases are already in court.
Leha who vowed to do something drastic about the increasing cases of armed robbery and kidnapping in the state, narrated how he lost four police officers at Oraifite in Ekwusigo Local Government Area two days ago, adding that after shooting the policemen, the robbers still used machete on them to make sure that they had died.
â€œThey (robbers) fired at the tyres of the vehicle in which the policemen were patrolling and when the vehicle fell into the gutter, they went there and shot them. Still not satisfied, they used machete to slice them before zooming off in their own vehicle.
â€œThe problem we have is that these robbers and kidnappers have feeder roads they use for their escape and we need at least 100 policemen to block these routes. For us to do that in this state, the number of police personnel has to triple and there has to be communication among the various check points, which is presently lacking.
â€œAt present, we have only 7,000 police personnel to fight crime in a state with a population of about five million people. Besides, the police lack the necessary Integrated Communication System toÂ communicate with all the divisional police formations in the state and we require about 100 vehicles for effective patrol.
For now, we can only communicate with Onitsha from Awka, while we can only communicate with Nnewi through Onitsha. This is totally unacceptable if the crime rate must reduce,â€ he said. The police Commissioner explained that 90 percent of kidnappings in the state have insider knowledge and participation, adding that it was for that reason that the problem has continued despite efforts by the police to curb it.